A STORY ABOUT A REAL MAN 37 cap, his nose buried deep in his brown fur collar, was sitting beside the driver, and behind him were several machine-gunners in field-grey greatcoats and steel helmets, sitting on high benches and swaying with the motion of the car. A larger general-purpose car brought up the rear, its motor roaring and its treads clanging. In it, sitting in rows, were about fifteen Germans. Alexei pressed closer to the snow. The vehicles came so close that the fumes of the exhaust gas beat in his face. He felt the hair at the nape of his neck rise and his muscles contracted into tight balls. But the vehicles swept by, the smell of the fumes was dissipated, and soon the sound of the engines was barely heard. When all had become quiet, Alexei got out on to the road, on which the tracks left by the cars were distinctly visible, and pursued his way eastward, following these very tracks. He pushed on in the same measured stretches, took the same spells of rest and ate as before, after covering half of the day's route. But now he proceeded like a forest animal, with the utmost caution. His vigilant ears caught the slightest rustle, his eyes roamed from side to side as if he were aware that a big and dangerous beast was lurking in the vicinity. An airman, accustomed to fighting in the air, this was the first time he had seen the enemy on the ground. Now he was wandering in their tracks, and he laughed vengefully. They were not having a good time here; they found no cosiness, no hospitality in the land they had occupied! Even in this virgin forest, where for three days he had not seen a single sign of a human being, their officer was obliged to travel under such a heavy escort! "Never mind, everything will be all right!" said Alexei to cheer himself up, and he pushed on, step by step, trying to forget that the pain in his feet was growing more and more acute and that he himself was perceptibly losing strength. His stomach could no longer be deceived by the piece of young fir bark which he kept on chewing and swallowing, nor by the bitter birch buds, nor by the tender and sticky young linden bark that stretched in the mouth like chewing-gum.